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Leeward CCʻs state-of-the-art driving simulator.

With more than 50 students obtaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL) during the pandemic, Leeward Community College has become one of the state’s leaders in training truck drivers, and preparing students for the state licensing exam. The program reached a new milestone and is now listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Training Provider Registry. This ensures that all CDL curricula, facilities, instructors, vehicles and state licensing requirements are in compliance with the new Entry-Level Driver Training final rule imposed by the FMCSA.

person driving a truck
CDL students get hands-on experience on the road.

The new rule goes into effect on February 7, 2022, and changes the education requirements for anyone who wants to obtain a CDL, upgrade a CDL, or obtain a passenger, school bus or hazmat endorsement. To comply with the rule, individuals will have to successfully complete a training program provided by a school or other entity on the FMCSA Training Provider Registry.

Hawaiʻi State CDL Examiner Monica Iras said, “The new rule will help promote safer and more knowledgeable truckers.”

Leeward CC Instructor Mike Scully, who teaches and coordinates the Commercial Motor Vehicle Series offered through the Office of Continuing Education & Workforce Development, worked tirelessly to ensure the program met the rigorous standards put in place by the new rule.

“Adding the new ‘theory-based curriculum’ was very challenging,” Scully said.

He developed an online course that covers the five core areas mandated, encompassing 30 modules of required learning. Previously, trucking students were educated on how to obtain their license and drive safely. Now, with the theory-based curriculum, trucking students will be introduced to every facet of being a truck driver, including: their rights, the laws, penalties if a violation is committed, environmental issues, safe driving techniques, trucking skills and more.

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Students may receive tuition assistance through Hana Career Pathways and community partners.

Adding more in-person instruction to the existing training would have meant a longer duration to complete the program and higher tuition. To mitigate this, the new theory-based portion is offered online through Laulima, the University of Hawaiʻi’s online class portal. For more information visit the Commercial Motor Vehicle program website, or contact Scully at

Interested Hawaiʻi residents who are unemployed or underemployed may qualify for full tuition funding for this and other industry training at the UH Community Colleges through the Hana Career Pathways program.

By Tad Saiki

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